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For Easter: The Gospel According to St. Matthew and more

Posted on April 21, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Reposting for Easter — Have a blessed celebration, everyone!

Ben-Hur is the traditional Easter classic, but there are some other films that beautifully illuminate the themes of this holy season. I like The Gospel of John, a very reverent re-telling of the story of Jesus. The rock musicals Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell can be very inspiring. But I have a special fondness for The Gospel According to St. Matthew, the understated, intimate re-telling of the story filmed by Pier Paolo Pasolini.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7DnjPrpc4E

 

For kids, the Veggie Tales have the delightful ‘Twas the Night Before Easter. And while it does not have much to do with Easter beyond the title song, Fred Astaire and Judy Garland make “Easter Parade” a family classic everyone will enjoy.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q77wqDDUDsc
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Drama Epic/Historical Holidays Rediscovered Classic Spiritual films

Interview: Taylor Firth of ‘Ice Castles’

Posted on February 4, 2010 at 8:00 am

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Figure skating champion Taylor Firth makes her acting debut in a remake of the beloved 1978 film Ice Castles. The original starred Lynn-Holly Johnson as the skater who has to start all over after an accident leaves her blind and Robby Benson as her hockey-player boyfriend. I spoke to Taylor about skating, acting, and her favorite Bible verse.

When you were growing up, did you have a favorite ice skating movie?

I would have to say Ice Castles is probably my favorite. It is the most realistic. And The Cutting Edge, that was a good one, too.

Ice skating and acting both require a lot of discipline and focus. How do you work on that?

You need a lot of patience. I’m a redhead so I am quick to anger, but God definitely gives me the patience and the strength I need to do it all with a good mind and a good heart.

What have you learned from your coaches and teachers?

My coaches that I have right now are amazing people. They definitely have given me some great tips about being the best that I can be and keeping on with what I love. Sometimes there are things that you don’t want to do or things that are hard for you, but usually when you keep going with them and are determined with it, they end up being some of the most amazing experiences you’ll ever have. There are sometimes things that seem a little scary, but once you start doing them, you realize that everything was worth it in the end. It doesn’t matter what you are doing. As long as you are doing it with the right heart and the right mind and doing it for God’s glory, that is all that really matters.

So your connection to faith is very important to you.

Definitely. My figure skating is my God-given ability and so I want to use it for His glory.

And acting, too?

I don’t really know how good at it I am, but I have had some good feedback and would like to think that it is another way do do that.

As a person of faith, is it important to you to work on projects that communicate your values to the audience?

Oh, absolutely, yes! Definitely. There were some parts in “Ice Castles” that I had a difficult time doing, to play someone who is blind, to be honest about what someone who doesn’t have sight would be acting and how they would really feel. It was important to me to be sensitive to that experience, to be careful not to be offensive or portray a blind person as incompetent because they are really amazing people. My faith is a huge part of it and keeps me well-grounded.

Did you observe blind people? How did you prepare for the role?

I really have not had much acting experience, just the kids’ drama team at church. So it was a little hard to prepare for it. But Donald is a great guy and a great director and he really gave me the tools I needed to learn what I needed to learn in a really short time.

Could there really be a blind figure skater?

Yes, I definitely believe so. I did an ice show for SABAH, Skating for the Blind and Handicapped, and there’s people that skate blind all the times, and one of the main skaters they had the year I performed with them was a girl, she was about 12 at the time, she was blind and she was doing her own solo program. She didn’t really perform the way Lexi (in the movie) does. Lexi can perform on her own because she can see light and shadows. This girl was completely blind so she needed someone on either side of the boards to say her name so she knew how far she was from the boards, but it is definitely possible.

I am really interested in the way you make your musical choices. You have selected some songs for your programs that are unusual and I think exceptionally well chosen. What do you think about when you are looking for music?

The biggest part for me is trying to get into the character of the music. It’s music that I have to listen to every day for an entire year so I have to pick something I know that I’ll be able to thoroughly enjoy skating to and show that love on the ice. Two of my favorite programs, one was jazz and I loved it. My mom actually found that piece. I didn’t like it when I first heard it because I thought it was a little strange. But my choreographer loved it so I had to put my trust in her and it became one of my favorites that I have ever done.

Another one is a song called “Prayer for Taylor” by Michael W. Smith. That’s another one of my favorites. It was a year I was having a hard time finding something. I would like something and my coach wouldn’t like it or my coach would like something and I wouldn’t like it. And then my mother was in a store looking for music and a man brought out a new CD and the song was on it. I used it for quite a few years. I was praying that I would find the right music and there it was.

What makes you laugh?

I’m a little bit of a quirky personality, I guess. My boyfriend and I laugh, and my sisters, I have three sisters, the best in the world, and they are really supportive. If one of us makes a mistake, trips up or something, we all just laugh and we impersonate people and review movie scenes of our own. One of my sisters is like a one-girl movie. She can act out scenes and knows all the quotes. And that makes me laugh.

Do you plan to do more acting?

In my perfect world, I would like to do something with the Christian film industry. I want to act some more in projects with a good moral based and I want to be a good positive role model in the world.

And what is your favorite Bible verse?

2nd Timothy 2:22 — about fleeing from the things of the world and looking to God for His guidance.

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Actors

‘Naomi’s Song’

Posted on March 28, 2009 at 8:00 am

One of the tenderest stories in the Bible is the tale of Ruth, the young widow who chose to stay with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Although it fills only four short chapters, the two characters are vivid and their story involving and touching. Joined in their love for Ruth’s late husband, they stay together until Naomi arranges for Ruth to marry the kind Boaz.

In the 1950’s, Selma Kritzer Silverberg wrote Naomi’s Song, the story of Naomi’s early life, but her manuscript was not discovered until 2005 by Silverberg’s daughter, who felt that its story and its message would be meaningful to young women. The daughter, Judy Vida, writes in the introduction that the book’s publication “brings to fruition lifelong goals of teaching, Bible storytelling, and empowering girls to have ‘that necessary courage and conviction.'”

Silverberg immerses the reader in the era, giving us insights into the experiences and qualities that made Naomi such a strong and dedicated woman. She faces enormous challenges in her early life and she must overcome personal tragedy and community upheaval. She responds with loyalty and perseverance, developing the strength and understanding that would make her a wise and loving mother-in-law for Ruth. It is easy to understand why Silverberg’s daughter would want to share this story with others. Like the story her mother tells, the story behind it is an example of sharing history and values l’dor vador, from generation to generation.

I have one copy of the book to give away to the first person who sends me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with “Naomi” in the subject line. Good luck!

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Books Teenagers Tweens

Bishop T.D. Jakes’ New Movie ‘Not Easily Broken’

Posted on September 17, 2008 at 8:00 am

I was privileged to attend the very first showing of the upcoming film “Not Easily Broken,” based on the book by the Bishop T. D. Jakes and starring three of my favorite performers, Morris Chestnut, Taraji P. Henson, and Jennifer Lewis. It is the story of a young couple struggling to keep their connection to each other and to God in the early years of marriage. And it is the first of what Bishop Jakes hopes will be a series of films with compelling stories told with heart and without crassness, profanity, or violence. It was made for a very small budget as a labor of love and they are trying to get the word out now so that the opening week’s box office will be big enough to persuade Hollywood to make some more.
There was a half-hour delay in getting the film started, which was fine with me because Bishop Jakes picked up a microphone to talk to us. It was a great pleasure to see his extraordinary ability to bring an audience together. It took him just a couple of seconds to turn to Washington’s largest movie theater into a congregation and to make us feel involved and connected. After the film, he, director Bill Dukes, and producer-star Morris Chestnut spoke about the project and answered some questions.
I can’t post a review until the film opens in January, but I can say that I very much appreciate their effort to create meaningful stories with good values that are unapologetically positive about spirituality and to create roles with some depth for these talented actors. It made me think again of how few movies there are that begin where most movies end — with a wedding — and talk about what marriage and happily-ever-after really mean. I’ll have another post on that topic soon.

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Spiritual films Trailers, Previews, and Clips

Interview: Jodi Benson of ‘The Little Mermaid’

Posted on August 26, 2008 at 8:00 am

It was a great pleasure to speak again with Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel in “The Little Mermaid.” jodi.jpg Jodi returns to the role for a new DVD called “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning,” in stores this week.
Tell me a little bit about the new DVD and what it was like to return to the character you created for the original film.
This story is about the essence of who she is when she is a little girl from age five to the original movie. it has the backstory of her mother, father, sisters, her issue with her mom, all of her relationships. It’s great to do this again because it’s in my blood. It’s been 20 plus years. Throughout the time in between the movies I have worked on a lot of a products, the princess DVDs, singalongs and story books, so she gets to live on between the years. Its nice that there’s not a huge lapse for me, but you really get to delve into it when it’s a movie. The people at Disney really gave their hearts to this project so that made it extra special for me.
How were you cast in the original film?
I was doing a Broadway show called “Smile” in 1984. It closed very quickly, which was quite sad for everybody. But Howard Ashman had established this relationship with Disney — Mickey Mouse came to the opening night party — and they invited all the girls in the cast to audition for “The Little Mermaid.” It was kind of like a consolation prize, About a year to a year and half later I got a call that my tape had been selected. I had never done voiceover work before, but Howard told them, “She won’t be difficult.” It was challenging because I had to learn to use the microphone correctly. I was nervous the first couple of days. He really directed me through the project like it was a stage show.
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I know your spiritual life and religious devotion are very important to you and your family.
I am a follower of Jesus. My husband really brought me to the Lord when I was 18 and I am so lucky to have a platform through the studio. They have been so kind and loving and supportive. I homeschool so the start of the day is reading Bible scripture, memorization and prayer. It is the number one thing in our lives for our family. It sends us every way. That makes it less pressure for me because I don’t have that stress, knowing I am just led by the Lord. We have tried to make our lives a blessing and tried to be an open vessel to pour out whenever the Lord gives us the opportunity. When I share a song or walk the red carpet, I always say, “let us do the loving thing.” My husband has a gift for reaching out to people in need. I always look over and see him connecting to someone who needs to talk or needs some support. The important thing is telationships, making connections, loving on them. We live in a broken world and we are here to help it heal.
Is there a passage of scripture that is especially significant for you?
John 15:5 — “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” It is so true. I can’t sing, perform, do anything apart from Christ. I have no power or strength of my own. The scripture for this week is Psalm 46:10 — “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” That is such a good thought for where I am right now.

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